What wire do I need for “with neutral” smart switches in the Philippines (PH)?

2021.09.19 07:02 iammatthewtang What wire do I need for “with neutral” smart switches in the Philippines (PH)?

What wire do I need for “with neutral” smart switches in the Philippines (PH)? Question:
What wire do I need for “with neutral” smart switches in the Philippines (PH)?
Specifically, in an urban area (Metro Manila) that uses Line-to-Line ?
Philippine Standards and Common Practices:
PH standard is 220V, 60HZ.
Urban areas tend to have a Three wire 120/240V Systems (aka Split-Phase System)
  • 2 * 120 VAC line (hot) wires and 1 * neutral that is grounded in the electrical pole
  • Total 240 V
Rural areas tend to have Two wire 230V Systems (more recently implemented circa 60's-70's)
  • 1 * 230 VAC line (hot) wire and 1 * neutral
  • Total 230 V
Sources:
https://myphilippinelife.com/philippine-electrical-wiring/
https://www.livinginthephilippines.com/live-and-retire/electricity
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeEViJskRIs

In effect, most areas in the PH only have 2 wires provisioned in light receptacle boxes:
Urban: Live + Live (120V + 120V)
  • (Colloquially called Line-to-Line. Sometimes referred to as Line1 and Line2)
Rural: Live + Neutral (230V + 0V)
  • (Colloquially called Line-to-Neutral. Sometimes referred to as Line-to-Ground)
Commonly Grounding / Earthing is not available but can be requested by property owner at their own expense.
Source of Confusion:
Given the different terminologies used locally as well as different set ups in Urban and Rural areas, you can see how confusing this can get!
The brand I’ve chosen to go with is Aqara (D1) but this seems to apply to all smart switches that require a neutral line.
https://www.aqara.com/cn/productInned12?on=3
(I know Aqara has a non-neutral version and I’ve already installed and tested these myself. While they’re good, I want to go with a “with neutral” version since it’s more reliable vs the non-neutral variant.
I also had an issue a while back with using 50hz in the PH’s 60hz but I’ve since confirmed from the manufacturer that this should be okay since voltage is the same and difference in frequency is negligible)
Confirmation from manufacturer

Going back... most residential properties in my area - I live in Metro Manila- don’t have neutral wires (Line-to-Line only) but since I’m going to have my house renovated anyway, I can have the “neutral wire” set during construction so this is ideal in my situation.
Unfortunately, nobody seems to know WHAT the “neutral wire” is.

  • Our electrical engineer isn’t familiar with the term or smart switches in general.

  • Some local technicians i’ve asked seem to interchange the term “ground” with “neutral” (which I understand shouldn’t be the case. Some, not all, technicians here seem to be loosey-goosey on proper electrical terms… smh)

  • 1st supplier I asked says “neutral” wire Is same as “ground” wire. “Just have contractor put ground wire as a provision.”

  • 2nd supplier I asked says “no, ‘ground’ is different from ‘neutral’ You need to get ‘Line 2’ from the ceiling and use that to power the ’N’ port.”

Here is the manufacturer’s diagram for reference:

Diagram for Aqara with Neutral

Diagram from a different brand but same ports
N = Neutral
L = Live (or Hot)
L1, L2, L3 = Load (or locally sometimes referred to as Return locally )


TLDR:
In short, given that I live in an urban area (Metro Manila) and have Live-to-Live (Line-to-Line) power, what wire do I need to tell my contractor to provision for, for smart switches that require a “neutral line” in the Philippines?
Bonus question:
how about in rural areas that use Line-to-Neutral?
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